Sherry Lynn Wood, CCE - October 2005

sherryStrength In Knowledge

We are in the second year of the celebration of the bicentennial of Lewis and Clark’s expedition. Why the second year? Because it took 863 days for them to lead their incredibly diverse team 8,000 miles across unknown territory, towards a previously unproven goal.

There are many stories of their amazing leadership skills; one that really stands out occurred late in the summer of 1805. The expedition had finally reached the headwaters of the Missouri River where Meriweather Lewis climbed towards the top of the Continental Divide. Here he was expecting to find his goal—the fabled Northwest passage: an all-water route that would connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Instead, as far as he could see stretched more mountains.

Can you imagine his disappointment? Can you imagine the let-down to the entire group? Yet, in the face of all that disappointment, think of the leadership skills it took to turn that disappointment into optimism—and convince the team to continue forward. Now, that took true leadership!

Jack Uldrich, author of “Into the Unknown: Leadership Lessons from Lewis & Clark’s Extraordinary Westward Expedition” comments: “They remind us that leaders do not so much discover the future, as they do create, motivate, sustain and grow the teams who create our future.”

I believe that you are the leaders—you are the strength, the core, the backbone, the motivators of this great association who will create NACM’s future. You are the ones who will help guide this business; you are the ones who will define what is important; you are the ones who will identify where to focus; you are the ones who will decide what to tackle next; and you are the ones who will entice and motivate others to join our team.

Dr. Alan Zimmerman said in his March 8th issue of Weekly Tips, “Good managers and good leaders instill a vision of a brighter future, and that vision liberates potential." Another tip was “There is no medicine like hope, no incentive so great, and no tonic so powerful as expectation of something better tomorrow.” The members of the Lewis & Clark team surely must have felt the incentive of something better for their tomorrow.

Yes, being a great leader takes vision. It can be hard: sometimes, it takes making tough decisions. But is also has many rewards; for example, when we see our vision come to life and watch that vision serve as motivation to others. In our roles as credit professionals, we must envision the benefit of the decisions we make; our decisions lead our companies to success. Our knowledge of our customers and our industry brings strength and success to our companies.

As strong leaders, you understand that there is strength in knowledge: the strength that comes with knowing that you understand the implications of whatever the current situation is, weigh the best approach to take, and then proceed forward—taking everything into consideration for the greater good.

We are constantly being pressed to be better. Whether we must be better this year than we were last year, or whether it’s pressure for better performance this month than last month. Status quo simply isn’t good enough anymore.

We look to leaders in industries for new innovations. We migrate to the newest in technology, the newest innovative products. Just ask your children if they would like to buy a transistor radio or an 8-track tape player!

Just as we look to leaders in product and service areas, we must become those very leaders in our field. We are the Lewis & Clark team, charting the course in our area of expertise. We are the team that must motivate our companies to embrace our sound credit decisions and collection policies.

We owe it to ourselves, our fellow employees, and our companies to identify goals that stretch our abilities, to locate assistance when needed, to prepare ourselves for those tough decisions, and lead so that others will follow us towards a better tomorrow. The critical key to improved performance is education.

Through your NACM involvement, you have become a great leader. As a resource for that needed knowledge, NACM stands beside you ready to provide you with needed information and expertise. As a support system, NACM is your avenue for a network of peers nationwide.

As leaders, we find strength in knowledge; as NACM members, we find strength in numbers. As Little Orphan Annie said, “Tomorrow is only a day away.”